Dementia in the News

Can high levels of stress really make you age faster? That seems to be the case judging by all the gray hair President Obama has spouted since his inauguration. Researchers, though, have more scientific ways to measure aging - using telomeres - the caps at the end of our cell's chromosomes that protect DNA from damage. These caps shorten over time, and a new study suggests that a common form of anxiety is associated with short telomeres and perhaps an earlier risk of dying.

Two decades ago, researchers began discovering rare gene mutations that cause Alzheimer's disease in all who inherit them. Now, they have found the opposite: a mutation that prevents the devastating brain disorder. The protective mutation also is very rare - it is not the reason most people do not develop Alzheimer’s disease. But what intrigues researchers is how it protects the brain. It does the reverse of what the mutations that cause Alzheimer’s do. Those mutations lead to excessive amounts of a normal substance, beta amyloid, in the brain.

Picture this:  Your husband gets fired from his college professorship. He had written his student's final essays himself and graded his work as theirs; they turned him in. Soon after, he buys a sports car he can ill afford and you beg his neurologists to get the dealer to take it back. Or this:  Seized with chest pain, you drop onto the floor and urge your spouse to call 911. Unmoved, he replies, "Oh. What's for dinner?" Such vignettes of executive and emotional dysfunction hint at why frontotemporal degeneration is a crushing disease, particularly for caregivers.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and seven global biopharmaceutical companies announced on Wednesday the formation of the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium. The announcement took place in the Massachusetts Pavilion at the 2012 BIO International Convention. Speakers included Patrick; Susan Windham-Bannister, president & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center; James Hoyes, president, EMD Serono; Jeffrey Flier, Dean of Harvard Medical School; and patients.

A new study adds to growing evidence that the complications of diabetes may extend to the brain, causing declines in memory, attention and other cognitive skills.

About one in eight Alzheimer's patients with severe confusion has a major complication wtihin a year of getting out of the hospital, in a new study.

Those complications, accordaing to the researchers, include mental decline, being put in a nursing home and even death.

The study, however, cannot say whether the combination of delirium and a hospital stay caused those outcomes - just that together, they're a risk factor.

The Working Mother Research Institute surveyed nearly 2,500 women, including more than 1,200 who have cared for a loved one with Alzheimer's, to get a clear picture of how the responsibility of caregiving affects their emotional, financial and work lives, as well as their families.

Children can be deeply affected when a beloved grandparent develops Alzheimer's disease. They may become afraid, confused, sad, angry, frustrated, worried, or embarrassed -- just to name a few potential feelings. Although each child reacts differently, there are some common fears:

1. The grandparent doesn't love them anymore

2. Their grandparent may be crazy

3. It's their fault that their grandparent is sick

4. They may catch the disease

5. Their parent(s) may get it

 

SIGNS THAT YOUR CHILD MAY BE HAVING PROBLEMS COPING

It seemed as if it would be a perfectly ordinary occasion, that hot August day in 1959. Three generations of a large Oklahoma family gathered at a studio in nearby Perryton, Tex., to have a photo taken of the elders, 14 siblings ranging in age from 29 to 52. Afterward, everyone went to a nearby park for a picnic.

Dementia is thought of as a scourge of the developed world, with its aging population, but it actually may occur at an even higher rate in developing countries, or so, at least, report researchers led by Martin Prince at King's College London U.K., in the May 23 Lancet. A shift in these countries' populations toward aging, combined with low education and undercounting, is blamed for the finding.

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